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Invertebrate Evolution

Explore different types of body symmetry, tissue organization and embryonic development in invertebrates.

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Attack of the Killer Sponge
Teacher Contributed

Attack of the Killer Sponge


Carnivorous Sponges

Student Exploration

Attack of the Killer Sponge

Sponges (Phylum: Porifera) are curious animals so curious that scientists wondered if they were plants or animals. They certainly don't look like most animals at first glance. No mouth, no "digestive" system, and they don't move. Take a sponge, place it in a blender with water, make a sponge smoothy, and the mighty sponge will reform itself, reorganize itself, repair itself. Sponges are curious creatures, go here to find out more about sponges and how they feed

Look here to see another example of a sponges filtering capability

But not all sponges are filter-feeders. In the deep sea, some sponges have taken a different tact to obtain food. An amazing tact which has scientists pondering the origin of animals. Find out more here

Of course animals do more than eat, here you can see a sponge broadcast spawning. Animals using this reproductive strategy broadcast their gametes (sperm and eggs) into the water column where they combine outside the organisms.

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions

  1. How is the way carnivorous sponges digest their prey different from other animals? Why do scientists feel this may be an important clue in the development of animals?
  2. Are all deep water sponges carnivorous?
  3. What have scientists suggested as the driving force behind these sponges being carnivorous?
  4. What are the three different body plans of sponges?
  5. How are the habitats inhabited by carnivorous sponges similar to habitats inhabited by carnivorous plants?

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